Ex-Peconic Baykeeper threatens lawsuit after dismissal

03/20/2014 1:52 PM |
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Baykeeper Kevin McAllister.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Baykeeper Kevin McAllister.

Kevin McAllister, formerly known as “Your Peconic Baykeeper,” wants area residents to know he’s still around, and he’s fighting for more than just clean water.

He wants his job back.

In an interview with The Suffolk Times Thursday morning, Mr. McAllister, who has served as president of the nonprofit advocacy group for the past 16 years, said he was unlawfully fired from his position on March 7 after engaging in a relationship with the organization’s development director, which had ceased about 18 months prior.

Mr. McAllister said Brendan McCurdy, chairman of the board of Peconic Baykeeper Inc., fired him due to “allegations of improper behavior with another employee,” and “allegations of alcohol use.”

But he said those “allegations” had never been fully investigated.

“Brendan McCurdy fired me without any due process,” Mr. McAlliser said. “He did it without a thorough investigation or any written material to document the allegations.”

“I was blindsided,” he said.

Alexandra Millar, who has identified herself as an organization spokesperson, managed the nonprofit’s fundraising initiatives, Mr. McAllister said, adding that Mr. McCurdy had initially recommended her for the position prior to her hire.

Mr. McAllister said that his relationship during his time with the nonprofit was with Ms. Millar, though he did not provide details about the extent of that relationship. An attempt to reach Ms. Millar asking for a response to Mr. McCallister’s story were not returned.

Mr. McAllister, known for using the legal system in water quality efforts, says he is willing to file litigation of his own against the organization should they not formally investigate the allegations.

“We are asking for his reinstatement, pending the proper investigation,” said Barbara Matthews, Mr. McAllister’s St. James-based attorney, adding that only “vague allegations” have been presented to him “at this point.”

Mr. McAllister said he will still be acting as a water quality advocate, most recently speaking with civic association members in East Moriches Wednesday night.

“I want to let people know that I am still advocating for clean water — even if I’m doing it in the interim as a volunteer and a community member,” Mr. McAllister said. “What’s immediately important to me is that my name is not besmirched, and that it is not misrepresented that I just walked off my job.”

Mr. McAllister started Long Island’s Peconic Baykeeper initiative.

It began as an adjunct program of Group for the East End before the nonprofit was able to take off on its own, said Bob DeLuca, the executive director of the Southold-based nonprofit Group for the East End.

The group was the 19th organization in the now more than 200-member Waterkeeper Alliance around the world, according to the Peconic Baykeeper website.

“I think one of his best contributions was his Baywatch Report, which informed the community about the state of the areas water quality,” Mr. DeLuca said. “His presence on the water was quite valuable — having someone actually out there to see what was going on.”

Mr. McAllister said, “I want to be reinstated — I want my job. I am very passionate about my work. I put in tremendous hours, and I show up.”

“I have my own brand. People that know me know that I am the face of this organization,” Mr. McAllister said. “Even my so-called critics out there — town board members or legislators, when I’m challenging them and identifying issues and efficacy, they may bristle when I walk in the room, but they all know Kevin is as passionate as they come and that he has his facts down.”

jennifer@timesreview.com

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